Pol Espargaro's natural inclination wasn't to celebrate a 16th place, just outside the points, but the Catalan rider saw enough in the performance of KTM's RC16 in Qatar to suggest the Austrian factory is on the right track.

Having endured a difficult test at the Loasil International Circuit two weeks prior to race weekend, Espargaro eventually concluded the 3.3-mile track, with its changeable conditions and lack of grip, was the most difficult he had encountered on the KTM.

Thus a finish that was impressively consistent for the most part, and culminated in him taking the chequered flag just four seconds off a three-rider group that included a Honda and two Ducatis, was satisfactory. "We need to be happy," he said.

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"We always want more and more but it's the first race and we need to know where our position is right now, how long these bikes have been on track and we need to understand that.

"We were 33 seconds from the front today and that is good. For sure we deserve more. We were just four seconds from one Ducati and one Honda. We wanted to be with them but honestly we need to be happy. We did a good job today."

Espargaro spent much of the 20-lap race locked in a tight battle with team-mate Bradley Smith, a duel he eventually won after the Englishman encountered some technical issues in the closing laps.

Another positive to carry into Argentina then, where Espargaro hopes to continue the machine's all round development.

"For sure this track was tough for us. It was not the best track for us during the preseason. We faced some tracks and this one was the harder for us.

"Even like that we have lost 1.5s every lap, so it's not so much. We must be happy because something good is coming but we need to work and wait."